We Have an Issue: The News Is Always Breaking

It’s our Back to School issue... but what does “Back to School” even mean in pandemic time?

The Chronicle has been a weekly newspaper for nearly 40 years, so it's not like we're unfamiliar with that sweaty dead zone between the time we send the issue to the printer on Wednesday nights and the time roughly 10 hours later when the newspaper rolls into our warehouse and our distribution drivers get to work. Occasionally we'd miss a late-breaking story in that dead zone, but rarely anything too calamitous.

And then the pandemic happened, and now the news is always breaking late. The news is never not breaking. That's made our annual Back to School Issue something of a challenge. We've endeavored to give our readers as up-to-date a picture as possible of school reopening plans. But, well, plans change. Indeed, as I type this, the Austin Independent School District board of trustees has scheduled a Thursday night vote to delay the K-12 start date three weeks, from Aug. 18 to Sept. 8, and to double the already planned remote-learning start of the semester from four weeks to eight.

Which is all to say, if you pick up this issue looking for definitive answers, I'm afraid you won't find them here. Definitive answers are in short supply these days. But what you will find is some insight into the mind-boggling logistics it takes to try to keep kids and teachers and staff safe; close-ups on how typically hands-on disciplines like theatre and filmmaking are being retooled; guidance on how young people should navigate dating and sex during COVID-19; and a snapshot of the very raw emotions so many Austinites are feeling right now as they brace for an uncertain future.

The last Sunday in August – the traditional stomping ground of our annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival – approaches, and the pieces are starting to fall into place for our first-ever virtual version of the fest. The Horn's Trey Elling will host the online festivities, which include cooking demos and musical performances by Como las Movies, Go Fever, Mike Melinoe, and Nemegata. For a taste of this year's T-shirt, check out the ad on p.32 of this week's print edition for Production Manager Zeke Barbaro's trippy design.

Online This Week

BabiBoi's "Molasses"

Raunch Meets Rhyme: Local rapper BabiBoi pays homage to ballroom icon Amanda Lepore in debut music video "Molasses."

"My Dog is Partial to Dancehall Reggae": Living Room Dance Party mastermind DJ Mel talks about the pivot to virtual DJ'ing and life at home with his pup, Jack.

"Save Austin" Flops: The Save Austin Now petition to reinstate the camping ban has fizzled out after failing to garner enough signatures to bring the issue to ballot.

The Capote Tapes

aGLIFF is a Go: Find reviews from some of the 65 films playing Austin's iconic LGBTQIA fest (which unspools Aug. 6-16, all virtual this year), plus an interview with Ebs Burnough, director of opening night film The Capote Tapes.

Abbott, the Accidental Muse: Catch the video premiere of Dumb's "I Gave Greg Abbott the Coronavirus," which Kevin Curtin describes as "a fantasy that could only be dreamt up by politically frustrated musicians in a quarantine."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Back to School 2020, Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Fest

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